The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 479th meeting held on 14 January 2015, was briefed by the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission on prevention of election-related conflicts in Africa.

Council acknowledged that in 2014, the majority of elections on the continent were conducted in a peaceful manner and that these elections increased the trust and confidence of the people on the electoral processes. They noted that the conduct of these elections had demonstrated the deepening and consolidation of democratization processes on the continent. In this regard, Council and participants commended the Commission for deploying both short and long- term election observer missions in all of these countries with a view to assisting them to conduct elections in peaceful conditions.

Council and participants stressed that the conduct of credible and legitimate elections in Member States is a clear demonstration of their commitment to upholding the AU principles on democracy, popular participation and good governance as enshrined in the AU Constitutive Act, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and relevant AU shared values.

Council and participants also stressed that political stability is essential to peace and socio-economic development of Member States. They noted that independent and professional national election management institutions, working together with effective national infrastructures for peace, play an important role in preventing election- related conflicts and in deepening democratic culture. 

Council and participants noted that nineteen (19) African countries will be organizing elections during the course of 2015. They also noted that some of these elections are likely to face the risk of violence. In this regard, they stressed the need to remain vigilant and invest more in early warning, preventive diplomacy, as well as mediation. In the same spirit, they recommended the following: 

a) The need to closely monitor developments in all of the 18 countries as they prepare for their elections in 2015;

b) The need for effective early warning signs of political instability in these countries, and accordingly, the need to ensure early responses;

c) The need to have in place preventive diplomacy mechanisms, including the use of the good offices;

d) The need for the AU to work closely with the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs) mechanisms both in preventing and addressing election-related conflicts when they arise;

e) The need to deploy  Pre-election Assessment Missions (PAMS) to undertake analytical assessment of the state of political and administrative readiness of these countries for elections; and

f) Deployment of long-term and short-term elections observers, depending on the specific contexts of each country.

Council and participants welcomed the ongoing preparations for elections in Zambia, Comoros Lesotho, Nigeria, Egypt, Togo, Benin, Chad and Sudan in the first quarter of 2015.  They urged political parties in these countries to ensure that a level playing field exists for all political actors and ensure that the elections are conducted in a peaceful and credible manner. They further urged contesting political parties to commit themselves to violence-free elections.

Council and participants also urged national institutions responsible for managing elections in Member States to be professional and uphold the principles of the African Union on democracy, popular participation and good governance and prevent election-related conflicts. They urged political stakeholders to seek legal channels to address any election-related disputes.     

Council and participants further stressed the importance of voter education and accurate media reporting in promoting peaceful elections.

Council and participants called on all AU Members States to renew their commitments to deepen and consolidate democracy and prevent election-related conflicts. In this regard, they urged those Member States which have not yet done so to sign, ratify and domesticate the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance.

Council and participants stressed the need for the AU and the UN, as well as the bilateral and multilateral partners to continue to work collaboratively in supporting Member States in building the institutional capacities of their national election management bodies with a view to enhancing their professionalism. They also implored Member States to build and/or enhance the capacity of national infrastructures for peace with a view to complementing the work of election management bodies in preventing election-related conflicts.

Council and participants also noted that the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be holding elections amidst counter-insurgency operations against the Boko Haram terrorist group which is terrorizing the north-eastern part of the country. In this regard, the Council and participants underscored the need for the sub-region, the continent and the international partners to extend full support to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group.   

Council and participants  underscored the need for the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs), the AU, the United Nations, with the support of the   wider international community to closely monitor the periods before, during and after elections  and to initiate joint efforts, whenever necessary, to address the inadequacies and flaws  in the national electoral codes with a view to ensuring peaceful, free, transparent and fair elections in Member States. 

Council congratulated the government, people and political stakeholders of Tunisia for holding peaceful and credible presidential elections.

Council decided to remain seized of the matter

Posted by Marsden Momanyi

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